Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

by Helena Kelly


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A brilliant, illuminating reassessment of the life and work of Jane Austen that makes clear how Austen has been misread for the past two centuries and that shows us how she intended her books to be read, revealing, as well, how subversive and daring--how truly radical--a writer she was.

In this fascinating, revelatory work, Helena Kelly--dazzling Jane Austen authority--looks past the grand houses, the pretty young women, past the demure drawing room dramas and witty commentary on the narrow social worlds of her time that became the hallmark of Austen's work to bring to light the serious, ambitious, deeply subversive nature of this beloved writer. Kelly illuminates the radical subjects--slavery, poverty, feminism, the Church, evolution, among them--considered treasonous at the time, that Austen deftly explored in the six novels that have come to embody an age. The author reveals just how in the novels we find the real Jane Austen: a clever, clear-sighted woman "of information," fully aware of what was going on in the world and sure about what she thought of it. We see a writer who understood that the novel--until then seen as mindless "trash"--could be a great art form and who, perhaps more than any other writer up to that time, imbued it with its particular greatness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524732103
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/02/2017
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 628,380
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

HELENA KELLY grew up in North Kent. She has taught classics and English Literature at the University of Oxford. She lives in Oxford with her husband and son.

Read an Excerpt

Everyone—almost everyone—loves Pride and Prejudice.* It regularly tops lists of the hundred most important or best-loved novels. The hero and heroine, Darcy and Elizabeth, have developed lives of their own, rather like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. They’ve become cul- tural icons in their own right, their relationship the ultimate in literary romance.

Excerpted from "Jane Austen, the Secret Radical"
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Copyright © 2017 Helena Kelly.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Authoress 3

Chapter 2 "The Anxieties of Common Life"

Northanger Abbey 35

Chapter 3 The Age of Brass

Sense and Sensibility 69

Chapter 4 "All Our Old Prejudices"

Pride and Prejudice 109

Chapter 5 "The Chain and the Cross"

Mansfield Park 155

Chapter 6 Gruel

Emma 197

Chapter 7 Decline and Fall

Persuasion 237

Chapter 8 The End 275

Acknowledgments 295

Notes 297

Further Reading 301

Index 303

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